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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 January, 2004, 11:05 GMT
Controversial croc hunter up for award
Steve Irwin holding baby near croc
Steve Irwin's stunt has drawn criticism from child welfare groups
Queensland authorities say they still support hunter Steve Irwin for a top award, despite criticism that he fed a crocodile while holding his baby son.

Police have said they will press no charges, but state family services are investigating the incident.

Mr Irwin is short-listed for Australian of the Year, to be decided this month.

Queensland State Premier Peter Beattie said he would not retract his nomination of Mr Irwin, saying he was a good "ambassador" for the state.

But the director of the Australia Day Council, a nongovernmental citizens' group which decides the winner of the award, admitted to having misgivings about Mr Irwin.

He has been one of the best ambassadors for Queensland in the modern era. He is known internationally
Queensland Premier Peter Beattie

"From my own personal point of view, and nothing to do with Australian of the Year, it's not something that should be encouraged," she told reporters.

"He's a very nice young man and I'm sure very caring about his family. But it's a bit strange," she said.

Mr Irwin shocked child welfare groups when he cradled one-month-old Robert a metre away from a crocodile during a show at his Queensland zoo on Friday.

Mr Irwin and his wife Terri maintained that their son was in no danger, and that it was important to teach him to become "croc savvy" living so close to the reptiles.

The act drew comparisons with pop icon Michael Jackson's dangling of his child over a hotel balcony.

Dozens of people rang a childcare hotline after Mr Irwin's performance, and the Australian Family Association called the conduct "child abuse".

The state's Families' Department confirmed it was seeking unedited copies of the tape from the Irwin family to assess whether workplace health and safety regulations were breached.

Mr Irwin said he had a tape from the zoo which showed his son was not in danger.

"[This] will give you another angle so all that ugly stacked-up vision of me looking like I endangered my child will be put to bed very quickly," he said.

No charges after croc baby stunt
03 Jan 04  |  Asia-Pacific

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